Shake Stew, Lila Review
The ever-creative Austrian ensemble Shake Stew is back with their Traumton Records release, Lila. An audacious exploration of musical textures and worldly influences of six songs that further cement their reputation as pioneers in their field. From the innovative lineup to their world music sonic textures, Lila is a fun exploration.
Shake Stew is led by visionary double bassist Lukas Kranzelbinder with a lineup that piques curiosity and defies the norm. With two bassists, Kranzelbinder and Oliver Potratz, they build a harmonic depth rare in most jazz and world configurations. Their three-horn section—Johannes Schleiermacher on tenor sax, Mario Rom on trumpet, and Clemens Salesny on alto sax—adds a dynamic flair, enriching the melodies with a mix of jazz and global influences. Finally, the dual drummers, Herbert Pirker and Nikolaus Dolp, lend a dynamic rhythmic complexity. This unique ensemble allows for a musical alchemy that’s both intellectually stimulating and viscerally engaging, setting the perfect stage for Lila’s expansive soundscape.
“Not Water But Rest,” featuring Precious Nnebedum’s spoken word, begins our world music journey. The track marries Shake Stew’s instrumental intricacy with a flowing spoken-word potency. It’s a beautiful contrast, as the spoken words add a different kind of music to the ensemble.
“Lila” has Kranzelbinder and Potratz’s basses open a multidimensional door, as the horns led by Schleiermacher and Rom herald the melody over an ambient groove. The mellowness is enriched by Dolp’s nuanced drumming, setting the stage for the album’s broader narrative of world sounds.
Now, “Detroit” gives us an urban cacophony, a labyrinth of electronic motifs punctuated by the complimentary sounds of Pirker’s drums and Dolp’s log drums. Kranzelbinder’s guembri adds an ethnic touch, culminating in a joyous dance that resonates with diversity.
The energy intensifies with “Heat (Live),” a frenetic exercise in rhythmic layering. With Pirker and Dolp setting an accelerated tempo, the horns engage in memorable melodies and fills, capturing the spontaneity of their live performances. The layering is so adept that it’s almost like witnessing an aural kaleidoscope.
“Shasta Fey (live),” exhibits Shake Stew’s known penchant for creating entrancing musical escapades. Here, Potratz’s Fender Bass VI is the linchpin, allowing the complex tapestry of rhythms to unfold naturally. The track pays homage to film, an influence that surfaces multiple times in the album, adding a layer of cinematic grandeur with the energy of a live performance.
“Breathe” provides the much-needed cooldown, allowing the listener to exit the album as one would finish a satisfying, intense run: not abruptly, but slowing down to a comfortable pace. Kranzelbinder describes it as a “collective exhale,” aptly encapsulating the album’s close.
Lila is a fine world music exploration, a musical travelogue of world and jazz. From the colorful bustle of “Detroit” to the reflective calm of “Breathe,” it captures a wide spectrum of musical experiences. The collaboration with producer Marco Kleebauer adds a polished finish without taming the band’s raw energy. This album breaks new ground but never forgets the rich soil from which its roots drew sustenance—a must-listen for anyone interested in the mixing of world and jazz sonorities. That’s the short of it!
Connect with Shake Stew: Website |
October 13, 2023